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[Nettime-nl] M$ news; API's niet open voor derden
Martijn Hazelzet on Sun, 4 Nov 2001 22:32:01 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-nl] M$ news; API's niet open voor derden

In het voorstel van Microsoft tot settlement van de langlopende monopoly
zaak staan zaken die het authenticeren tot een exclusief Microsoft domein
maken. Hopenlijk beseft iemand met controle zich eventuele consequenties
wanneer men denkt aan het gebruiken van M$'s software voor bijvoorbeeld

+++ knip +++

MS snags crucial authentication, DRM opt-outs in DoJ settlement
By Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco
Posted: 03/11/2001 at 00:41 GMT

The DoJ's capitulation to Microsoft, described by the San Jose Mercury's Dan
Gilmor as "[awarding] the hen house to the meanest fox in the woods", was as
Dan says not unexpected. Microsoft might not be the natural barbecue
companion for the Texas oilmen who make up the Bush Administration: but the
decision to nullify the AntiTrust laws by failing to enforce them is
entirely consistent with the 43rd Presidency.
But what really should make enemies of The Beast weep tonight isn't the
remedies, it's the opt-outs Microsoft has secured for itself.

The biggest omission you'll notice, when comparing the agreement against
Judge Jackson's proposed behavioral remedies is the absence of technical
disclosure practice. The original conduct obliged Microsoft to disclose
APIs, and did so in some detail. It outlined the creation of a neutral clean
room: an independent verification facility staffed by both industry
opponents and Microsoft representatives, to ensure that compatibility issues
were solved within a fixed time period. Or else.

In today's agreement, not only is Redmond not obliged to disclose APIs to
third parties, it's secured an explicit guarantee that it doesn't have to.
The small print in Section J 1 of the 'Prohibited Conduct' notes:- .

"No provision of this Final Judgment shall:
1.Require Microsoft to document, disclose or license to third parties:

(a) portions of APIs or Documentation or portions or layers of
Communications Protocols the disclosure of which would compromise the
security of anti-piracy, anti-virus, software licensing, digital rights
management, encryption or authentication systems, including without
limitation, keys, authorization tokens or enforcement criteria;

or (b) any API, interface or other information related to any Microsoft
product if lawfully directed not to do so by a governmental agency of
competent jurisdiction."

It's the most significant part of the entire agreement document, as it
describes oversight of Microsoft's future conduct in the most critical areas
of web services (authentication) and multimedia content (DRM).

It also represents an end-run around the AntiTrust Laws: Microsoft only
needs to claim that its security is being compromised to get the authority
of a Government policeman. In its own way, this section institutionalizes
corporate malfeasance.

New balls, please
For much of the nineties, big business spent enormous energy on promoting
the idea that markets and not the ballot box were the true instrument of
democracy. Swashbuckling businessmen didn't just reject tiresome burdensome
regulations, they stole the revolutionary couture of the Left to brand such
interference as anti-democratic.

For the IT industry, with its instinctive fear of government, this became
axiomatic: tech folk bought into the notion faster and deeper than anyone
else, and ideology trumped common sense even amongst Microsoft's most
articulate opponents. "Market failure is only solved by freer markets,"
chirped Eric Raymond in his 1998 essay which argued for the repeal of the
AntiTrust laws. It's an argument that's welcomed, of course, by powerful

But not even in their wildest dreams could the business elites have imagined
that in 2001, the AntiTrust department itself would be offering a convicted
monopolist state protection. 

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